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November 21, 2022
"Mes de los Muertos"

Nightplay

By Lydia Manx

I certainly had not expected this to be the end of my life. Oh, yeah, sure I knew I wouldn't live forever but pleasekilled by a vampire? How totally unexpected was that? After all vampires were just fictional creatures. So I had thought until about ten minutes or so ago. I looked down on my still twitching body from a bit above. The vampire had earlier introduced himself as Larry. We had danced a little at the club and then he asked me if I wanted to see the owner's luxury suite. I wasn't stupid so I politely said no then quickly I wandered away to see if I could find my friends and see if they would care if I left.

Larry didn't much care for my refusal I gathered as he caught up with me and wrapped his right hand around my neck and pulled me outside by the throat. The exit was poorly marked and did not emit the promised alarm. A beat later we were out in the cold night air. My scratching his face was rebuffed with a savage blow to my left temple. Once the birdies and stars had stopped dancing around the edges of my vision, I found myself suspended a few desperately long inches above the ground against a rough brick wall. His palm kept me from moving much though I did try to stretch my foot down but to no avail. I was unable to touch anything no matter how hard I struggled. A new problem presented itself as my windpipe could not generate enough air to scream. My vision blurred as my brain was being denied precious oxygen. I tried to shake my head free of the man's brutally strong grip.

It was then I thought I had begun to hallucinate because I watched Larry's teeth lengthen. I was still discounting what my eyes were seeing as Larry moved his mouth to my neck. He loosened his grasp and the first bits of air into my lungs were greeted by two sharp pricks into my jugular. Silently thinking this had to be some sick joke as my feet drummed against the bricks. I still could not get any leverage against the wall as my blood rushed into Larry's mouth.

My eyes rolled down to see that his were closed. Guess I had a tasty blood type for vampires. His other hand was firmly pushed right under my breast on my rib cage further pinning me against the bricks. His long dark eyelashes rested gently on his cheeks as he drank even more from me. And those soft brown eyes that had looked so sweetly into mine when he begged a dance were thankfully hidden. My blood continued to leave my neck in an arc flowing right into his greedy face. I felt my soul soaring out. With a burst of my remaining life I gave up trying to get a footing against the wall and propelled my high heeled foot down firmly into his crotch with every ounce of power left in my body. I finally had something to push against and did very hard with all my might. His hand was off my throat as I shot up the wall a bit.

His teeth were freed from my throat as he growled out in pain. So I guess vampires kept their parts was all I had time to think before his hands reached up and pulled me down to his face. He then precisely snapped my neck.

A string pulled me firmly out of my dying corpse. I kept looking down on myself disbelieving. I had just been killed by a damned vampire. No way. I refused to answer the insistent pulling motion. Watching Larry drop me like unwanted baggage I was regretful but felt nothing for my shell. That was all it was to me a discarded shell. Air escaped my dead body with a nasty hiss. I watched the steam rise and the blood seep sluggishly from my neck as my heart stopped pumping. Just like that I knew I was now completely dead.

Larry eventually picked up my corpse and sauntered off to a darker side alley. I observed his glancing around furtively; there was nobody outside to see anything much less object to his tossing what used to be me into the only open garbage encrusted dumpster. There were a few dumpsters lining the walls with padlocks and others that were stacked over the tops with bags and boxes. He, with some of his shirt sleeve wrapped around his hand, pulled some of the other bits and scraps of what trash there was inside over my body and dropped the lid with a dull clank. He took the corner of his jacket and casually wiped his prints off the lid of the container. Poof, my corpse was out of sight.

I shrugged while he began to fuss himself back to a semblance of normalcy. His shirt was tucked back into his slacks and he shot his shirt sleeve cuffs while pulling his jacket straight. The wind played down the side of the building mussing his hair. He shuddered and briskly rubbed his arms as he went back to the club. I followed closely and Larry didn't give me a glance as I glided behind him into the nightclub. When we were at the door a bouncer asked him something inaudibly. Carefully I leaned in to hear what Larry answered. His reply suddenly was of absolutely no interest to me. Not waiting to puzzle out that emotion I floated on further into the wall of sound.

Probably I should have been angry at the vampire but what was done was done. He did what his nature dictated. I harmed him and he responded. That was that. It was not like I could simply unsnap my neck. So vengeance was not what was keeping me here. I had heard the stories. Ghosts were echoes of souls, energy duplicating an action surrounding their missing life or mysterious death. After that initial pulling sensation nothing was dictating my actions as far as I could detect. My cadaver held zero attraction for me. With that pretty much settled I drifted around the club for a bit. My friends had disappeared in the time it had taken for me to be killed. They were a fickle lot and probably assumed I had left bored hours before. My own independent nature was such that I was notorious for leaving clubs and parties if uninterested. Add to it all I had not drove but caught a cab. So my car would not be found sitting abandoned at some future date to point out where I was murdered. Not my problem I decided.

Eventually I drifted towards the main entrance. It had struck me that I did not have to follow Larry. He had taken another willing female back to the boss's lair and I felt no impulse to join him much less watch. That came as a welcome relief. Having been prey to his nature I would much rather not be tied to the fate of a bad choice in dance partners. Soon the doorframe was in view. I noticed a new feeling to the club's atmosphere.

The air thickened. The doorway looked huge. I continued nevertheless towards the entrance. Another vampire strolled into the club. She looked right through me. I don't know how but I could easily spot vampires now. That would have been helpful an hour or so earlier. A male vampire followed the creature closely laughing at some remark she made. Once they cleared the opening I saw a gap in people and pushed on.

The cork holding a shaken bottle of cheap champagne is the best I can describe my passage. I literally popped out into the street. A rush of air propelled me past the doorman and waiting crowds. Not a single person turned to see my stumbling. I brushed myself off. Strangely I felt like was touching myself when a dark elfin child walked into me and through. Okay, so I was transparent. Like this was a good thing. The street urchin shuddered and sighed out, "Whoa, what the hell was that?"

Hmmm, that would have been me. Disinterested I journeyed off the main streets into the shadows. The night held no secrets to my eyes. Animals vied with the homeless for scraps tossed out back doors of restaurants. Hookers plied their trade up against brick walls and bent over the hoods of cars. Drunks scampered in and out of bars vomiting their abuses into trashcans and gutters. None of it slowed my travel.

I didn't know where to go. Somehow I doubted many ghosts had jobs so heading to the office to catch up on the backlog of my paperwork held no appeal. I didn't feel hungry or tired or even thirsty. Basically I didn't seem to feel. I could see by the frost laden whispers from the whores and transients; it had to be in the teens. Yet I wasn't cold. Wait, that was not true. Certain areas I passed by had a cold feeling to them. Those I skirted easily once I figured out they looked different to my soul. Death didn't seem to have very many rules.

I probably would have continued drifting around indefinitely if it had not been for that cry. Don't make any mistake here -- there had been all sorts of cries during the passage of hours. Passion, sorrow, anger and pain to name just a few, for some reason this particular cry caught my attention.

I kept twisting and turning through the sidewalks and streets. Each block I journeyed brought the sound louder and closer to me. I wasn't familiar with this section of town but I was pretty sure I was headed towards the river. A breeze carried a rotting stench to me. The cries grew more frantic. Another corner and then I saw the girl.

She wasn't a girl, I decided on a second glance, but a small framed woman. Add in the fact the three men surrounding her were huge. There was a vampire, slight and female, off to the side, completing the tableau that had called me. My death had afforded me a chance to watch so much of the underbelly of the streets. Cynic, that I was, none of it really surprised me except the whole vampire-ghost issue. Intrigued I wandered closer for a better look.

The female vampire directed the action around the other female.

"Carl, you were pulling your punches. Trust me she deserves more."

Really nice, I thought glaring at the vampire undetected. Carl was six and a half feet tall if an inch. His body, unlike the bouncer I had seen earlier at the club, was definitely the end result of massive quantities of steroids. His skull was shaven and buffed like a bowling ball. The eyebrows were light in color so mentally I sketched in light sandy brown non-descript hair on the guy, which explained why he would shave his head. It would have made him look like an idiot whereas the bald skull made his soft features more menacing. I really couldn't see his eyes well because whatever other chemicals coursed through his bloodstream had given him huge black, dead expressionless pupils. Ugly acne dotted his face and shoulders which were unfortunately exposed given his inappropriate summer wear of a small tank top and cargo pants. Doc Martens encased his size 14 feet. He lifted one and stomped the ground enraged. He turned towards the vampire.

"I didn't pull nothing, Sapphire. The little bitch just takes punches well."

The stream of blood leaking from her lips served as evidence of Carl's statement.

"Jesse," she glanced over to a smaller, mean-looking guy.

"Huh, Sapphire?" His voice broke mid reply. For his entire posing tough guy image he was terrified. He was half a foot shorter than Carl. His muscles were not bugling but sinewy and work related. The dark blue work shirt he was wearing had his name stitched over the pocket. I figured him for some type of mechanic as there were black oily stains splattering his worn blue jeans. His wallet was chained to his belt loop and a tattoo declaring his love for mom was visible on his exposed forearm.

"Jesse, I want to know did Carl pull his punches?"

A hiss from Carl as the victim looked at Carl and shook her head to clear her vision.

Shakes his head at the same time Jesse said, "Dunno, I don't think so, Sapphire."

Carl punched Jesse in the arm. Jesse didn't even flinch. Obviously Carl hit people often.

"Did that hurt?" Sapphire smiled showing her fangs.

"Yeah," Jesse said while looking down at his feet. No steel toed boots there. Simple shoes for a simple man.

The third man was left holding their punching bag. His hands were huge and it didn't look like she was going anywhere as far as I could see. It was all she could do to stay upright between those paws. I didn't she would be able to very far under her own steam for quite a while. Then I really noticed the man holding her up. I was stunned to see he was nearly Carl's height but tight muscles. He was pretty scary to me and I was already dead. His hair was long, well past his shoulders and jet black. I figured a dye job given his blue eyes. Tattoos adorned every visible surface of skin practically. His neck, some facial designs in ink and all his exposed arms to his finger tips nearly. The horror I felt came from the content of his skin art. Eyes plucked from skulls with blood covered sinew and optical nerves trailing back to the decayed faces depicted on his muscles. Severed body parts that were being carried by hideous ragged birds of prey traced around his hide. His tank top fit, unlike Carl's scrap, but it was even more disturbing to see glimpses of red and blue ink trailing underneath the shirt to other unknown sketches. At the center of his throat was an angry looking zipper tattoo exposing a purple sapphire stone with yellow golden rays shooting outwards up his neck and to the zipper design. Hmmm, any wonder who the sapphire was supposed to represent?

"Slate," bit out the vampire.

Not a man of man words, it seemed, as he only nodded to Sapphire. His given name was Slate? Somehow I sincerely doubted it. By the amount of ink on just his visible body it did make sense.

"Is she conscious?"

Slate roughly shook the girl hanging in his grasp. A low moan escaped her blue-white lips. She looked moments away from joining me. I drew closer. Her eyes were bruised nearly shut from the beating. Blood trailed off her jaw line dropping to the dirt below her. The puddles of blood beneath her feet illustrated the amount of time they had spent beating her. I wondered how long she had been crying out.

"Over two hours," spitting some more blood to the ground the girl spoke while looking towards me.

"You can see me?" I asked softly, somewhat afraid I may be overheard by the others.

"Yes," she breathed out roughly spitting even more blood. She was trying to find me with her eyes nearly swollen shut. Once she met my eyes she glanced back to Sapphire.

"Hey, who the fuck is she talking to?" Carl said casting his eyes around the shadows frantically. He vision rolled past me without pause.

"You called me?" I asked.

She nodded slowly and not without pain from her gasp in of air.

"Who the hell is here? Show yourself!" Sapphire was not happy at having her little torture session interrupted. Oh well.

I walked closer. An impulse hit me and I stopped when I got to Jesse. I gulped and walked into Jesse, instead of continuing through him I stopped. I was angry at the damage they had done to the girl. I let the anger roll through me and out, I pushed as much hate through my soul as I could capture. Jesse began to tremble and shudder. I felt like I was covered in raw sewage. Glimpses of Jesse's world were nauseous and poison drenched. Hatred and neglect had been his mother's milk; from there school hardened the remainder of his world view with his physically being small for his age up until his late teens-sexual, physical and mental traumas ran together to make his self identity. It seemed like I stood inside Jesse forever with his history rolling over me in ghastly waves, but from the people and creature watching Jesse it could have only been a blink or two of time.

With a twist I pushed all of Jesse's hatred back inside. He began to twitch and fell to the ground. I stepped out and watched his eyes as they rolled back inside his head and he had some sort of episode. Carl began to frantically pound Jesse on the back and from I could tell fracturing a few ribs. White froth spilled from Jesse's mouth. Carl, not knowing his own strength, gave a final twap. Very final, I concluded watching the man, he must have pushed one of the broken ribs through Jesse's lungs. Red joined the white foam and all too quickly his heart seized. Too many drugs had weakened his heart and with a single thump Jesse died.

I watched his soul screech out from his body. It was grabbed up by scary black shadows and yanked downward. Ouch. Guess Jesse would not be my new ghostly companion.

The girl laughed.

"Not hardly," she whispered.

Sapphire caught the comment.

"Who the hell is here?" She finally hissed.

The dark hair girl looked straight at Sapphire.

"Not hell, someone you can't touch."

Her smile lit up the shoreline. The white teeth were marred with the blood that had been beaten from her body. She didn't seem to care.

Not looking at me she said, "No, I don't care. I walk in light. You are someone I called."

"You called me? But I don't know you." Genuinely confused I ventured even closer. Carl stepped in front of me before I could reach the girl I jumped out of his way. He simply walked past unaware of me and picked up Jesse then discarded him in the river. Burial at sea, what a nice guy, I thought. After the Jesse episode I had no desire to do that internal bit right away.

"Good idea," the reply came from the girl and then Slate grumbled, "Stop that you freak."

"Oh, yeah, he would know freaks alright," I said realizing now only she could hear me. Sapphire was stalking around the edges trying to find me by chance.

"Cold. Cold. Colder." I quipped watching the girl smile slightly. "Okay, you can see me and you can hear me. I am newly dead and you called me, right after Larry the Lounge Lizard Vampire snapped my neck?"

"Yes, because Larry was made by Sapphire. I knew you would hear me and find me."

Sapphire stopped and told Slate, "Shut that bitch up now. How does she know I made a vampire named Larry?"

Slate put his hand over the girl's mouth.

"Damn, I didn't get your name." I grumbled aloud.

'Charlotte' came into my mind with her voice.

"You can reply even when silenced?"

'Yes," a softer answer.

"Then why did you reply aloud earlier?" I was upset.

'To piss these idiots off,' she laughed into my brain.

"What am I supposed to do and why isn't Sapphire near you?"

The laughter that burst out of Charlotte flowed out from her like a spotlight. Slate dropped his hand from her mouth as if bitten. He placed his hand back on her arms so she was again tightly gripped.

Aloud she said, "Sapphire can't touch me because as a medium any dead spirit she took from this world can cross over and tell her what they think."

"So?" I was puzzled.

"Basically their telling involves visuals and some hands on instructions."

Claws and teeth flashed as Sapphire ran headlong for Charlotte screaming in rage. Carl grabbed her seconds before she would have been in range of Charlotte's touch.

"That appears to be true," I smiled and continued, "So what do you need me to do?"

Charlotte gave that a moments thought.

"Help me get free so I can let Sapphire meet all her admirers." Sapphire howled and scratched at Carl. Carl didn't seem to mind in the least from the look on his face. Instead of lunging for Charlotte now she suddenly wanted free. Carl let her go and watched the vampire flee back to the edge of the clearing. It looked to me like the air around her was thicker.

"The air is; those are the spirits I have found who want a piece of her," Charlotte said in a steady voice. Blood no longer freely ran down her face and she seemed calm.

Sapphire began to rub her hands along her arms. She seemed to feel the weight of the hatred aimed towards her.

"Slate," the vampire's tone was deadly, "Kill the bitch now."

Slate seemed to have come to a conclusion all his own. He looked to the river where Jesse's body was nearly out of sight bobbing away from the group. He looked at Carl who remained in the spot Sapphire had fled from moments ago. Then he looked at the woman in his hands.

"Can't do it," came the man's answer.

"Why not, Slate?" Sapphire looked shocked by the reply.

"Never killed anyone, don't think a medium is a good start." With that he walked off letting Charlotte fall to the ground.

I figured Slate would be changing his sapphire tattoo later in the day from the way he strode off. There was no hesitation and no looking back. Carl still had not moved. Charlotte faltered in trying to get up. I walked over but could see no way to help her.

"Just being here has helped me all I need," and with that Charlotte leaped up and grabbed the vampire.

"Run along now. This isn't where you need to be anymore. Thanks for your help." Charlotte appeared to glow and then ghosts came from all sides of Sapphire.

I caught a glimpse of heads half torn off bodies, stomachs ripped open and entrails strewn about the various apparitions' feet, knives and clubs were gripped in some haunts hands. Charlotte was right. I did not belong there. With that I turned away from the river and continued on my new journey. The screams followed me for miles. Eventually they too stopped.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-10-30
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